On a naked mountain top near Palermo, Sicily, an amazing work is growing every day in which the echo of the Arab-Norman cathedrals and Sicilian popular culture blend in a system of extraordinary devotional geometries. It is a story of abuse – though it is not a racket or desperation, but an abuse of imagination and a need for redemption. Up there is someone who, continuing, as the famous verse by Hölderlin suggests, to ‘live poetically in the world,’ works in solitude for the salvation of the soul of the city. Occupying a disused building, this person has created an abode/sanctuary, a tribute to the beauty denied in the desolate north outskirts of Palermo where he previously lived and worked.
Fifteen years ago, in 1997, Israele went up the mountain, taking with him this new name from the Bible and leaving behind society and his family, a wife and daughter. The only other things he took in his ascent were his strong mason’s hands, an agile body and the Book of Books. He was about 40 years old when a shadow came into his life that interrupted the normal flow of things. At the time of that dark guilt, he had a strange dream in which God presented a pair of twins to him: a double Jesus Christ. One of the two had his face; in short, it was him. Then he realised that he was destined for a task to appease God, who had been disappointed and wounded by man, and to make God’s son return to the earth and reawaken a dead world.
In the beginning, Israele found shelter in a cave that he chose because of its inaccessibility, stretching out over the sea from a precipice. To reach it, it was necessary to lower oneself from above with a rope or place a ladder against the rock face. Inside the cave he made some inscriptions and mosaic tiles with small pebbles, as well as a small altar where he wrote the word ‘End,’ in which he felt there was the key to everything and that he felt would subsequently become the extreme synthesis of his spiritual annunciation.
Israele spent his days going down to look for pebbles on the beaches and his nights looking up at the constellations, particularly focussing on the three stars of Orion’s belt and the novas that form the body of the mythical hero, who fights the bull of materialism in astral maps. Three (and its products) is Israele’s guiding number, and in the profile of Orion he recognises the outline of an archangel. Meanwhile, Israele’s dreams continued to indicate the pathway to him: thus, when his spirit was ready, reborn in the womb of the mountain, he climbed to the top and settled in the only building, a military construction once used for sightings and now ruined, which he decided to save from abandonment.